Direct Line magazine

Top tips to prevent car theft

Updated on: 8 September 2020

A thief attempts to break into a car.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of premium brand cars¹ being stolen in the UK, so it's increasingly important to make sure you're one step ahead of the thieves.

Analysis by Direct Line² shows a surge in the number of premium cars reported stolen over the past five years. Between January and October 2019, more than 14,300 premium cars were stolen across the UK. That’s more than double the amount stolen over the same period in 2015 (6,600).

A staggering 67,700 premium cars have been stolen since 2014, the equivalent of one every 38 minutes.

There are many factors that can affect how much risk there is of your car being stolen.

Even the time of day can have an effect.

By looking at the time that owners are most likely to realise their vehicle has been stolen, early morning comes out top with nearly half (49 per cent) occurring between midnight and 9am, and 23 per cent between 6am and 9am³.

This is probably due to owners leaving home to commute to work.

In comparison, only 19 per cent of crimes are reported between 6pm and midnight.

"71 per cent of stolen premium vehicles are taken from the owner’s address."

Cars are also slightly more likely to be stolen on a weekday than at weekends; seven per cent more crimes are reported from Monday to Friday than on Saturday or Sunday.

The common belief that parking in your driveway can be an effective deterrent seems to be wrong, with our analysis showing that around 65 per cent of all vehicles are stolen from the owner’s address. That figure rises to 71 per cent for premium vehicles, highlighting the importance of vehicle theft prevention measures at home.

So, what can you do to protect your car?

Five tips to help prevent car theft

1. Make sure the vehicle is locked

The smoother locking mechanisms on modern cars can make it difficult to hear if it locks. Double-check your car is locked before leaving, even if you’re just going for a few minutes.

And never leave your car running when you’re not with it.

2. Invest in the right technology

Most modern cars are fitted with alarms and immobilisers as standard, but thieves manage to keep pace with technology.

Good old-fashioned security devices can still be effective in deterring criminals. Steering wheel, pedal and gear stick locks are inexpensive, easy to install and off-putting to thieves.

Don’t rule out tracking devices or CCTV systems that can be fitted near your car and can help track down your vehicle, and the thief, should it be taken.

3. Keep your keys safe

The easiest way for a criminal to steal your car is by taking the keys, so never leave them lying around in public spaces and always make sure they can’t be seen from doors or windows.

4. Block signals

Relay theft is a method thieves use to steal cars with keyless entry by tricking your vehicle into thinking your keys are physically present.

Some car keys can be switched off, meaning their signals can’t be hijacked, but if that’s not possible invest in a Faraday pouch. The pouch shields its contents from static electric fields and protects the items inside. They’re relatively inexpensive and are available from many retail outlets.

Learn more about relay theft.

5. Park smart

If you don’t have the luxury of a private garage or off-street parking, try to park in a well-lit, populated area whenever possible. Thieves will always target vehicles left in areas where they have little chance of being seen, so parking in side roads or areas away from street lights could put your vehicle at increased risk.

¹The makes defined as ‘premium’ cars covered in this analysis include: Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lotus, Maserati, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, Tesla, TVR and Volvo.

²Analysis of Direct Line Group claims analysis of thefts of cars by brand between January 2015 and October 2019. All figures extrapolated based on Direct Line’s historic market share to provide an estimate for the total number of vehicle thefts in the UK.

³Direct Line analysis of claims data for stolen vehicles covering the period 2014-2018.

Related articles

A thief tries the handle on a car door.

Is your car at risk of relay theft?

Relay theft is a new method used to steal cars. And if your car has keyless entry technology, then you're at risk.
A disklok car security tool on a steering wheel

Anti-theft locking devices for your car

To protect new or older cars, we explore the best security devices to help deter criminals from targeting your car.
a parent hands keys to a car to their daughter

Why is black box insurance good for your children?

They've torn up their L-plates and now they're driving off in their first car. Learning to drive is an exciting time for your kids, but it can be worrying for parents. Find out why telematics insurance can keep your kids safe and give you peace of mind.